It can be difficult when there is an imbalance of libido in the relationship. It seems common that partners may not always feel the same amount of desire for sex.

Romance and love may be present, however the desire for sex may have waned, or gone completely. Sometimes only in one partner, and sometimes for a long time.

Often, in frustration, the high-desire partner may see it as the low-desire partner’s problem. It makes sense that it could be framed that way. Media seems to normalise high sexual desire in the relationship, by both partners.

It seems to be seen as what should happen.
However, that may not be the rule. At least, not as common as the media portray it as being. It seems that diversity in the relationship extends to desire, the desire for sexual intimacy.

Diversity around desire can be seen to be a relationship problem, not a sexual desire problem in one person. Low libido in a person seems to only be a problem if they think it is. If they are unhappy about it. On the other hand, if they are happy with a healthy level of disinterest in sex, then that might be seen to be empowering them to do other stuff.

It is seems that a person’s low sexual desire for physical intimacy is only a problem if they prefer something else. In a relationship, the partner might prefer greater desire for physical intimacy that matches their own. Sometimes the low-libido partner wants to increase their libido so that the relationship is happier.

Frustration can be experienced by the high-libido partner, along with feelings of unfairness and even desperation when they choose to keep their intimacy within the relationship. So what can be done?

A lot can be done. There are many ways to treat this condition. “Just as a combination of factors can cause the [condition], a combination of treatments can be beneficial” says Claire Postl of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America (SMSNA). So there’s lots of hope for couples.

Firstly, framing it in a healthy way can help a lot.

In frustration, couples may blame or pressure the low-libido partner for the lack of physical intimacy in the relationship. Labeling low libido as a disorder seems unhelpful and inaccurate.

A healthier way is to think of low-libido as a condition. Much like pregnancy is a condition, or rainy weather. It can be helpful to think of it as fluid or plastic, something that can change if other conditions change.

It can be unhelpful to the relationship for a low-libido person to make an identity claim as being asexual. Rather than making a fixed identity claim, it can be more helpful to think of low-libido as being a fluid sexual orientation of low-interest at the moment, and that this probably will change at some point. It helps to think of asexual orientation as a fluid condition.

Today I feel disinterest. This may change, possibly.

Look for when you might be more open to Intimacy

Look for a time when perhaps you are more open to intimacy, when it seems slightly more possible. Even if it seems intentional and not spontaneous. If affection is your partner’s language of love, then look out and watch for a time when you might be more open to engage in that language of love. When you notice such a time, communicate it to your partner.

Speaking your partner’s language of love can seem weird. It might not seem natural to you. Perhaps they like service and you prefer affection.  You need to speak their language for them to feel the love. In this case, it is not about you.

In a relationship, if your partner has a problem, then it can be seen that there is a problem in the relationship that you both share. Goodwill invites us to notice and resolve problems in the relationship.

This condition of low libido can be seen in several ways.
It is helpful to choose not to see it as a problem in the low-libido person. Instead in internalising the problem, externalize it.

Rather, see it as a condition in the relationship. Externalizing it as diversity in the relationship can also be helpful.

What could be seem to be pathologizing could be a healthy level of disinterest in sex. It seems that low libido is only a problem if the low-libido person hopes for something different.

Where there is a desire imbalance in the relationship, then it could be a problem to the relationship. Sometimes when this happens the lower-desire partner comes under intense scrutiny especially in terms of the ways in which it may legitimize one view or the other. (Dan & Pauer, 2021).

Mostly, sexual desire incompatibilty seems to be a relationship problem, and there is much that can be done about it.
As a relationship problem, both partners would have to want to change, be prepared to make changes and to hope for something different and better. Both partners can work together to make changes, and that starts with framing the problem.

Claire Postl, (2021) MA, LPCC, Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, The Sexual Medicine Society of North America (SMSNA),